Atlanta archbishop apologizes for lavish living, may sell mansion

Tue Apr 1, 2014 7:45am EDT

U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops President Bishop Wilton Gregory pauses before releasing the first of three major reports promised by the Catholics after a child sexual abuse scandal erupted in the United States two years ago at a news conference at the National Press Club in Washington, January 6, 2004. REUTERS/Larry Downing

U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops President Bishop Wilton Gregory pauses before releasing the first of three major reports promised by the Catholics after a child sexual abuse scandal erupted in the United States two years ago at a news conference at the National Press Club in Washington, January 6, 2004.

Credit: Reuters/Larry Downing

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(Reuters) - The Roman Catholic Archbishop of Atlanta has apologized for building a $2.2 million mansion to use as his home, a move that made him the object of derision and complaint, and said he may sell it.

Archbishop Wilton Gregory said he took his "eye off the ball" after the archdiocese received a $15 million donation from the estate of Joseph Mitchell, a nephew "Gone With The Wind" author, Margaret Mitchell.

Pope Francis has been urging Roman Catholic officials to live simpler lives and has renounced the papal apartments in the Vatican palace for modest quarters in a Church guest house.

The Vatican removed a German bishop - dubbed the "bishop of bling" - last month from his job because he spent 31 million euros ($43 million) on a residence where fittings included a bath that cost 15,000 euros and 2.9-million-euro private chapel.

In Monday's edition of The Georgia Bulletin, the newspaper for the Atlanta archdiocese, Gregory wrote: "While my advisors and I were able to justify this project fiscally, logistically and practically, I personally failed to project the cost in terms of my own integrity and pastoral credibility with the people of God of north and central Georgia."

He also said in the newspaper column that the archdiocese would begin the process of selling the mansion "if it is the will" of Church and other advisers.

A Vatican spokesman said he had no comment.

(Reporting by Carey Gillam; Editing by Louise Ireland)

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